Researchers have discovered a stem cell that can recreate a prostate from scratch.
Writing in this week's Nature, Kevin Leong and his colleagues at Genentech in San Francisco explain how they have identified a series of chemical markers present on the surfaces of a subgroup of prostate cells that single these cells out as stem cells. When the team isolated and added them, individually, to a recipient animal they were able to produce fully fledged prostate tissue containing the full spectrum of different cell types found in the mature prostate.
Critically the cells also self-renewed, producing a fresh supply of daughter stem cells with every division. The identification of these cells will now enable scientists to understand much more about the processes underlying age-related prostate enlargement, and also prostate cancer. It could also have important implications for tissue repair in the future.